Colon Cancer

The University of Chicago Center for Gastrointestinal Oncology provides a comprehensive range of methods to detect and treat colon cancer, even in its earliest stages.

Videos: Colorectal Cancer Symptoms, Risk Factors, Screening and Treatment

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Conventional and Virtual Colonoscopy

In a colonoscopy, doctors insert a very small camera into the colon to check for signs of disease. Using probe-based confocal laser microscopy (pCLE)--a technique performed with one of the world's smallest microscopes--our physicians are able to view live images of colon tissue at the cellular level. This advanced imaging technique enables earlier and more accurate detection of cancer.

In addition, we offer "virtual colonoscopy," a noninvasive test for screening colon cancers. Virtual colonoscopy (VC) uses X-rays and computers to produce two- and three-dimensional images of the colon from the lowest part (the rectum) to the lower end of the small intestine, and then displays these images on a screen. For some people, VC is more comfortable than conventional colonoscopy because it does not use air to dilate the colon. As a result, no sedation is needed, and you can return to your usual activities or go home after the procedure without the aid of another person. This test is not available at most hospitals, but has been available here for years.

Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS)

Our physicians are also skilled in the use of endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) as a screening technique for patients with a family history of colon cancer. To perform this minimally invasive endoscopic technique, doctors use a thin, flexible tube equipped with miniature cameras to view tissue in the gastrointestinal tract. By taking a proactive approach to cancer screening in high-risk patients, we hope to catch the disease at an earlier, more treatable stage. EUS is one of several gastrointestinal interventional endoscopy procedures performed here at the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Advanced Imaging Technology

Patients here may have CT or PET scans--radiologic and nuclear medicine studies used to stage the cancer and help doctors create the best, individualized treatment plan. Our center has one of the most advanced CT scanners available in the Midwest.

Cancer Risk Assessment

A comprehensive cancer risk clinic for patients with gastrointestinal tumors or a family history of colon cancer has been available to patients with colon cancer for several years at the University of Chicago. Here, genetic testing, counseling, and a wide range of helpful resources are available for patients at risk of hereditary cancers.

Surgeons in surgery

Surgical Treatment

When cancer is detected, surgery is often needed. Our doctors are skilled in the latest surgical techniques for treating colon cancer. This includes minimally invasive colorectal surgery, which results in less pain, scarring and blood loss than traditional colorectal surgery.

Some of the minimally invasive surgeries available here include:

  • Segmental colectomy/left or right colectomy: Removal of a portion of the colon »More about colectomy
  • Total abdominal colectomy: Removal of the entire colon »More about colectomy
  • Total proctocolectomy: Removal of the colon, rectum, and anus
  • Abdominal perineal resection: Removal of the anus, rectum, sigmoid colon, and creation of a permanent colostomy
  • Small bowel resection: Removal of part of the small intestine
  • Stoma creation for fecal diversion: Creation of an opening in the abdomen for stool to pass through


Participate in a clinical trial for colorectal cancer

Chemotherapy is another treatment option, particularly for patients whose cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and patients whose tumor has spread (metastasized) to other organs. Several clinical trials are available to our patients to provide them with the most advanced and modern treatment options. Some patients also choose to participate in clinical trials of new drugs.


Maximum Care from Minimally Invasive Treatment

Hand-drawn illustrations from her physician, Konstantin Umanskiy, MD, helped Mary Carlene Shedd pick the best treatment to beat colon cancer. »View larger

Information from the National Cancer Institute

Clinical Trials